Indian-American doctor Jayant Patel, charged with botching operations and causing death of three patients, was today accused in an Australian court of lacking requisite experience to perform a "major operation" on a patient who later died in 2003.
59-year-old Patel, labelled 'Dr Death' by the media, is accused of manslaughter of three patients Mervyn John Morris, James Edward Phillips and Gerry Kemps during his work at the Bundaberg Base Hospital between 2003 and 2005.
46-year-old patient James Edward Phillips was in the end stage of renal failure in May 2003 when Patel decided to perform an oesophagectomy, prosecutor Ross Martin told the court in Brisbane in Australia.
Medical exploration before the operation had discovered a "concerning" nodule in Phillips' oesophagus but other doctors only recommended biopsies and further assessment.
The prosecutor said Patel made the immediate decision to perform "a huge operation", which led to Phillips' death two days later.
Martin said medical evidence would show Patel, who was director of surgery at the time, did not have the requisite experience to perform the operation.
The court was also told that Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland did not have the necessary facilities for post-operative care for such a major operation.
"The operation required a much higher level of care than was available at Bundaberg," Martin said.
Extradited to Australia from the US, Patel yesterday pleaded not guilty as judge John Byrne read out three charges of manslaughter and a charge of injuring another patient in the courtroom in the presence of his wife Kishori, also a doctor.
Patel's high-profile trial comes more than 25 years after questions were raised about his surgical competence to carry out major operations at Bundaberg hospital in Queensland between 2003 and 2005.
He faces life imprisonment if convicted.